Film Review: Man On A Ledge

Not just any movie gets one of the stars to do a commentary track over its trailer, so Man On A Ledge must clearly be something special.  Right?

At least for we feeble minded individuals, anyway.  A fellow reviewer said this to cap his review: “Man on a Ledge sets out to be a crowd pleaser and it might succeed at that for some viewers, I just hope you ask for more out of your entertainment in the future because this is a lesser effort.”  And my response to that is this: why not have it both ways?  Not every movie has to be a thinker with depth and complexities; sometimes it just has to be fun.  And you enjoyed Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, fellow reviewer, so I know even you go slumming every now and again.

If you watched the trailer then you already know a lot more than I did going into this one.  I just thought it was about a man who decided one day to go up on a ledge and hang out.  Nothing jovial, but I didn’t quite know to what extent of a hidden motive there was to be had.  Which is why I actually found myself pleasantly surprised that the snide comments I had already planned to use in my review of a disappointing movie were no longer applicable, because this movie ended up being better than I expected.

Now I am in no way saying that this film is a gift from the film gods, but considering how little I was expecting I couldn’t help but be excited for what the film turned out to be.  As Sam Worthington is up on the ledge using whatever accent that was in response to the level of trust Elizabeth Bank’s NYC cop/negotiator is trying to build between the two, turns out there is far more to discover about his character.  Obviously we have to learn who he is and why he is up there, and as this spools out we also get to see what he is doing in order to fix the predicament he is currently in.

Which involves a second story running contiguously to the ledge perching, involving Jamie Bell as Worthington’s brother, and Genesis Rodriguez as Bell’s girlfriend in some situations of thievery for the greater good.  What started out as something that I was rather against story-wise when it is introduced to the plot line because of how out of place it seemed to be (again I was admittedly ill-prepared for the actual premise of this film), I will say that the moments between these two actually ended up being a lot of my favorites.  Worthington is also brought in during these scenes as well, and the dynamic between the three as they work together manages to remain fun even though there is actually a lot at stake.  Plus, they are pretty amateurish at what they are doing, which throws in a few laughs as well as they circumnavigate the problems using their novice level knowledge.

Because of the simplicity of the story, we’re talking comparable to Denzel Washington and Chris Pine’s Unstoppable in how there are only oh so many options for how the ending can play out (will the train crash or wont it!?), another thing that may surprise the viewer is that the story actually manages to excite at times.  In all honesty I never felt bored during the 102 minute run-time, and though I never doubted the ending, there were still a few aspects that I wasn’t sure how they would play out.  Let’s just say with all that is going on, I wasn’t willing to bet on how Worthington was going to remove himself from that ledge, and if it would be his choice.  Maybe some of those poorly constructed and unoriginal bad guys might have something to do with it, or someone shouting “JUMP!” below might actually give him the push he needs.  Probably not, but I was willing to stick around to find out.

Who knows, maybe I was just in the right mood to see a movie like Man On The Ledge to be able to come out of it with positive thoughts considering I saw the flaws that are causing a lot of bad reviews.  This may mean I am not asking that much out of my entertainment, but sometimes simply being entertained is all that I feel is necessary to ask for.

Final Grade:  B-

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